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Whitman vs. Allred: Highlights from Today's Trial by Press Conference

California Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, with her husband Griff Harsh, talks to reporters in Santa Monica, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 30, 2010. AP Photo/Reed Saxon

Meg Whitman's housekeepergate dilemma keeps unfolding, providing fuel for the California Republican gubernatorial candidate's Democratic opponents and the media.

The California branch of the Service Employees International Union today released a TV ad targeting Whitman's alleged hypocrisy on the issue of hiring undocumented workers. Her Democratic opponent Jerry Brown feasted on the allegations, stating, "After more than a year of Whitman demanding immigration policy that 'holds employers accountable,' we learn that accountability doesn't extend to her own actions."

During a press conference she called on Thursday, Whitman, accompanied by her husband Dr. Griffith Harsh, vigorously and confidently denied that she had any awareness that her housekeeper Nicky Diaz-Santillan was an undocumented worker. 

She said that she was "stunned" to hear the confession from her long-time housekeeper in June 2009, more than three months after she announced that she would run for governor. She said she had no choice but to follow the law and terminate her employment.

Whitman also denied that she had received a letter from the Social Security Administration indicating that Diaz-Santillan's Social Security number did not match her name, a document Allred alluded to on Wednesday.

"Neither my husband or I received such a letter," she said. Whitman implied that her former housekeeper may have been on the lookout to intercept the letter.

Whitman said she would take a polygraph to prove she was telling the truth, and laid the blame for the accusations on her opponent Jerry Brown. She called the accusations a "political smear" and "distraction."

And, she contended that Diaz-Santillan was being manipulated by Allred. "Nickey had a gun put to hear head...and is being manipulated by an attorney who has done this for years. I believe absolutely this is linked to the Brown campaign," Whitman said.

"California deserves a debate on the real issues, not on the tawdry politics of personal destruction," Whitman said Thursday during her press conference.

Former housekeeper, Nicky Diaz Santillan, left, looks to her attorney Gloria Allred, as Allred displays a copy Thursday Sept. 30, 2010 of a purported 2003 letter that she says shows Republican gubernatorial candidate, Meg Whitman knew all along that her housekeeper might be an illegal immigrant. AP

Shortly after Whitman's press conference,Allred held one of her own, and produced the letterthat she said showed that the California Republican gubernatorial candidate knew about Diaz-Santillan's immigration status prior to June 2009.

The letter, which Allred displayed for the media on a large poster board, was allegedly sent to Whitman and her husband from the Social Security Administration, and indicated that Diaz-Santillan's Social Security number did not match her name.

Allred pointed to handwritten notes, allegedly written by Whitman's husband, at the bottom of the page that said, "Nikki, please check this, thanks." She claimed that Whitman and her husband saw the letter and should have known their housekeeper was an undocumented worker.

"Today we have clearly proven with the release of this letter that Meg Whitman lied to the press and the public," Allred claimed. She said the letter exposes the Whitmans' attempt "to deceive the public and hide the fact that she knew she was employing an undocumented worker long before" she fired the housekeeper.

"They are the employers, and the letter clearly indicates it is the employers' duty to return the completed letter to the government," Allred continued. "Meg Whitman is exposed as a liar and hypocrite."

Whitman hasn't yet responded to Allred's latest accusations and the letter she produced in the trial-by-press-conference drama. There is no clear evidence that candidate Whitman isn't telling the truth about her understanding of Diaz-Santillan's legal status. The "smoking gun," if the 2003 letter from the Social Security Administration and scribbled note are authentic, may simply mean that her husband has some explaining to do.

Dr. Harsh issued a statement Thursday evening, allowing that he may have authored the note on the document. "While I honestly do not recall receiving this letter, as it was sent to me seven years ago, I can say it is possible that I would've scratched a follow up note on a letter like this, which is a request for information to make certain Nicky received her Social Security benefits and W-2 tax refund for withheld wages," he wrote. "Since we believed her to be legal, I would have had no reason to suspect that she would not have filled it in and done what was needed to secure her benefits."

"It is important to note what this letter actually says: 'this letter makes no statement about your employee's immigration status,'" he added.

Stay tuned for the next chapter in as the Whitman world turns, but don't expect any polygraphs or the mudslinging to simmer down before election day in November.

More coverage:

Will Allegations from Meg Whitman's Housekeeper Hurt Her in November?
Meg Whitman Says Ex-Maid's Allegations are "Completely Untrue," Blame Jerry Brown's Campaign
Whitman Goes on Defense About Ex-Maid's Status; Gloria Allred Promises to Prove Otherwise
Meg Whitman's Housekeeper Dilemma
Meg Whitman Housekeeper Nicky Diaz Santillan Claims Mistreatment, Unfair Termination

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